Obama and family in wintery clothing VOGUE 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Larry Downing)
This past election, we heard many scurrilous claims – if not outright lies –
from some partisan Republicans and political conservatives both here and in
Israel, individuals committed to putting Mitt Romney in the White House at
almost any cost. After four years of President Barack Obama’s pro-Israel
presidency, one of the most odious claims was that if given a second term, the
president would somehow “throw Israel under the bus” and reveal a sinister
version of himself that he’d kept under wraps during his first term.
Republicans insisted on this deeply disturbing narrative and similar claims, but
the overwhelming majority of American Jews demonstrated that they saw through
these myths on Election Day. And in November 2012, Israel’s supporters around
the world saw these bogus claims shattered by more of the president’s singular
pro- Israel leadership.
But a key question lingers: when will the
anti-Obama Israel myths stop? And when will partisan Republicans end the
disgraceful and dangerous tactic of turning Israel into an election wedge issue
– something they did in this election to an extent never seen before? Let’s
pause for a reality check.
Shortly after Election Day, the president and
members of his administration clearly supported Israel’s right to defend itself
as Operation Pillar of Defense began. Indeed, President Obama and Vice President
Joe Biden spoke with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon
Peres multiple times throughout the conflict in order to convey their support
and discuss the constructive roles the United States could play.
president and members of his administration personally condemned Hamas’ rockets
and placed the blame for the escalation squarely at Hamas’ feet. In addition,
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shuttled around the region to ensure that
Egypt would play an important role in reining in Hamas and instituting a vital
But of course even before Pillar of Defense began, President
Obama and his administration were outspoken champions of the revolutionary Iron
Dome missile defense system – which the Bush administration greeted with
skepticism and ultimately took a pass on, according to The Wall Street
The Iron Dome proved itself effective against Hamas’s rockets
and prevented countless Israeli casualties prior to Pillar of Defense. But the
critical test took place during the heavy barrage of rockets during the
operation itself – and the Iron Dome passed with flying colors, while garnering
praise throughout the Israeli government. Home Front Defense Minister Avi
Dichter said that if the Iron Dome was traded in the stock market, “it would
have multiplied its share value several times over.”
lined up after the conflict to thank President Obama for his support of Israel’s
actions and for the Iron Dome. In particular, Defense Minister Ehud Barak –
Israel’s most decorated soldier – reiterated what he has proudly declared over
and over: “The security relationship, as well as the intelligence relationship
between our two countries, has never been so close... and we are highly thankful
However, the president’s support for Israel began long before
The president and UN Ambassador Susan Rice were Israel’s best
allies in the United Nations throughout the past four years. Under their
leadership, the United States amassed an unprecedented 100% pro-Israel voting
record in the UN, passed the most significant Iran sanctions ever, and made
significant progress combating what Ambassador Rice dubbed “anti-Israel
So it should have surprised nobody that the United States worked
assiduously and voted against the Palestinians’ upgrade to UN non-member
observer status. Even though the vote’s result was apparent well before the
General Assembly convened that day, America’s delegation made an impassioned
case against the upgrade and reiterated that stunts in the Israel-obsessed UN are
no substitute for direct negotiations.
President Obama led and acted
precisely the way a deeply pro-Israel president would, and he deserves our
community’s thanks. While some of the president’s critics have expressed their
appreciation, many have not. The harshest critics – who routinely spewed venom
and lies during the campaign – should be lining up single file to make up for
the embarrassment they’ve caused the pro-Israel community with their absurd
Their silence – and continuing malfeasance – should concern all
of us who care about the US-Israel relationship.
The pro-Israel community
must work to expand and broaden itself so that we can continue the tradition of
broad bipartisan support for Israel.
One of the best ways to start is by
giving credit where credit is due – and by throwing the Obama smears themselves
“under the bus,” once and for all.
The writer is president and CEO of the
National Jewish Democratic Council